Transformation. Economic engine. Investment.
These were just a few of the words used repetitively to describe the now funded M1 Rail project which will be the first leg of a complete transit system under the new Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was flanked by a who’s who of Detroit regional public, private and non-profit people in a rare but hopefully more oft-seen sign of regional unity and strength as he announced $25 million in federal funding for M1 Rail as well as $6.5 million to do engineering and studies on the Regional Transit Authority.
The project is expected to create approximately 2000 jobs.
This initial $31.5 million provided by the feds is only the beginning. “We will back with announcements for more … you will have a state-of-the-art Regional Transit Authority,” said LaHood.
We only need to look to our neighbors to the south to see where mass transit has made monumental difference.
“Over $4.3 billion dollars of real estate investment has happened along Euclid,” in Cleveland, said Representative Gary Peters, whose district covers a wide swath of Metro Detroit. He went on to talk about how the $200 million transit project along that avenue was the catalyst for transformation, bringing in more residents and jobs.
Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, talked about how this private/public partnership is making mass transit across Detroit possible. “The rail project will provide the funding match to open the lock for the regional transit system,” he says.
“There’s no other city in America that has had a business community that has stepped up and raised $100 million” for mass transit, said LaHood. “This is going to be in the history books.”
M1 Rail should be running down Woodward in late 2015 and shovels will be in the ground this summer.